Despite ABC's somewhat weird scheduling of their imported British miniseries Titanic -- three of the four hours air tonight Saturday from 8p - 11pm, then the final part airs tomorrow Sunday at 9pm for one hour, sandwiched between regular programming -- viewers loving both all things Titanic and recent PBS sensation Downton Abbey will be in heaven. DA's creative force Julian Fellowes is one of the chaps behind this newest version of the Titanic story, and it also features several DA alumni in this multi-point-of-view Rashomon-like retelling of the castastrophic event. Viewers will meet and experience Titanic's maiden voyage through different passengers' experiences, then in the concluding hour we will see their fates played out before us.
Eagle-eyed viewers spot some of the creme-de-la-creme of British acting talent throughout the four hours, including familiar faces from The Tudors, Bleak House, the Harry Potter films, and others. This Titanic might better have played on PBS, and surely they could have done a less messy job with the programming than splitting the mini up as ABC has done, but many viewers will probably DVR it anyway so no harm done, really. Still, mustn't grumble! Here's a selection of promos from various outlets for Titanic:
Titanic isn't a new subject for TV miniseries. In 1979 ABC made big splash (sorry about that!) with their September start-of-season presentation of S.O.S. Titanic, with David Janssen top-billed in his role as John Jacob Astor. Perennial TV favorite Cloris Leachman landed the plum role of the raucous Molly Brown, a just post-Alien Ian Holm played Bruce Ismay, plus Susan St. James, David Warner, an early Helen Mirren, and Ed Bishop (from cult favorite series U.F.O.) also co-starred. There is a new DVD out on this TVM, but it's been severely edited down from the original 140 minute version.
In November of 1996 CBS premiered their new two-part Titanic miniseries, a lavish production starring George C. Scott as Captain Smith, Peter Gallagher and Catherine Zeta-Jones as a pair of ill-fated lovers, Roger Rees as Bruce Ismay, Eva Marie Saint as a first class snob, and this time around Marilu Henner stood in for the Denver millionairess Molly Brown. (The whole movie seems to be available for now on YouTube beginning here.) You can check out a couple of good trailers for the miniseries on the Titanic Internet Movie Database page, too.
Of course we're looking forward to ABC tonight -- not sure if it will be up OnDemand after the initial airing, so perhaps you need to DVR in case you can't watch in real time -- not because we expect it will show anything particularly new, but because the story of the Titanic is timeless. Attention must be paid, and TV is the place to do it.